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Who Speaks for the Children?

Last night, we left the sweltering heat of the football stadium ready for the hike back to our car on 97th Street.  We took a shortcut, wandering down a nearby avenue, my heart deflated, a young girl, unsupervised with matted hair, filthy, in nothing but a day old pull up diaper.  She played in her front yard, crouched quietly playing with a little stick, ignoring the traffic of pedestrians that bustled by in the heat of the night.

I felt a pang of guilt in my heart, turning the other way pretending not to see this child of obvious neglect. My eight year old son looked at me wide-eyed, “Mom, you would never leave us outside this late, with all these people walking by. Especially, in nothing but a dirty diaper. That’s just wrong!”

It occurred to me if my eight year old son was aware enough to notice the implications of child neglect. Why were all of us walking past this house ignoring the poverty and neglect of this child? How do you separate yourself from this situation?

My husband saw that look in my eye and reminded me, “It’s not your problem.”

I took a deep breath, “So whose problem is it? Is it that child’s problem?  Is it her fault that she was born into this poverty? Is it her fault that there is no adult in her life with enough sense to bathe her, brush her hair, and ensure she wears clean pull-up’s?  It’s not the child’s problem! Whose problem is it?”

“Well what do you plan on doing? Knocking on their door and telling them that their child needs to be bathed, clothed, fed, and supervised?”

We both knew that wasn’t going to happen.

“I’ll take care of it in the morning and phone child services.”

 I felt this child had no voice and naively believed maybe if I took the time as concerned citizen to report this incident –maybe this one child would have the chance for a happy childhood and a brighter future.

My optimistic spirit for this child was crushed this morning.  I contacted the hotline and they told me next time to contact the police. I then received a barrage of excuses on why they wouldn’t investigate.  They suggested the house may have been an apartment – no real proof of address. It was also pointed out I didn’t know the victim. I received excuse after excuse why this household could not be investigated.

Perhaps, it’s not the wisest to have faith in an underfunded, over burdened system.  But I was acting as a concerned citizen. That child has no voice! When will it be time we wake-up to help those children who are neglected and in need of a good home.  If we constantly turn a blind eye to these children they will fall through the cracks only to reaffirm the cyclical system of child neglect and abuse.

Categories: child neglect Education Life motherhood parenting politics poverty social services thoughts

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Darcie Cameron is a RYT 200 who believes Yoga is a gift that is accessible to everyone with proper modifications, a patient smile and just taking the time to breathe. One of the greatest presents you will ever unwrap is when you connect your mind, body and spirit in perfect sync with your own breath. Connect with Darcie on Facebook

12 replies

  1. To top it off, we (the public) are frequently told that child protective services is the person to call when we see neglect or abuse. Sadly, most CPS’s are so overworked by abuse cases that neglect cases get ignored until it is too late & they turn into abuse cases.

    1. It’s a tragic situation with no solution. I find it very frustrating. I just hope someone from this poor girls neighborhood or outside relative steps in before it is too late! I just wonder how can such neglect happen?

  2. It is a heartbreaking situation, made worse by the fact that there are so many cases of abuse and neglect that the system can’t cope with them. And always, always it is the child who will suffer. It is wrong beyond words, and yet, what can you do?
    I watched the movie Precious the other night, which devastated me. I find it difficult to conceive that some parents treat their children so badly.

    1. I just read a recent article in the Edmonton Journal if we invested more in child poverty and family services. The government would actually be saving 7-10 billion a per year. It would be nice see them put the money where it’s needed. I know this sounds like a cliche but the children truly are our futue.

  3. I volunteered at a home for AIDS affected children. One thing is very clear, regardless of the neglect and abuse the children suffer, there is a bond between mother (father too) and child, which a lot stronger for the child than we, discerning adults that we are, can overlook. I know of one child, Ramisha, who was lucky to see her mother four times a year. Yet, when one of the volunteers took her in as a foster child, Ramisha wailed in agony; she was four years old, had never known her mother as a nurturing being. My heart went out to Ramisha, and condemnation in equal measures to her mother.
    Then my sister,Deanna, set me straight. You see, she was a public health nurse who worked with negligent mothers. Deanna pointed out how lucky we are that we have so many good parenting role models in our lives. Not just our own mother, father, but aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, and on and on. This is the network of influence your eight year old has already tapped into in a concrete, cognitive way. Good for you for showing him what it means to be a good parent. Unfortunately most of these neglectful parents have no such ingrained experience to draw on, which would prompt them to do what we consider only decent and natural.
    Calling the authorities can give temporary relief of the symptoms, but it’s like treating cancer with a pain-killer alone.
    Most likely I would not be brave enough to do this, but I wonder, what impact someone like your family might have if you had knocked on the door and said, “Let me help you,” in whatever non-monetary way you thought you could. Think of the impact that would have on your eight year old son.
    It seems to me that much could be solved face-to-face, eye-to-eye, rather than bolstering organizations with more resources and facilities. I realize this is quite wishful thinking, but what better forum for just such thoughts?
    Sorry, I didn’t really mean to be such a soapbox hopper, but your post really touched me.

    1. Thank you for your comments! They mean so much too me! In a perfect world I would love to knock on the door and say, “You look like you need some help!” But in this day and age you never know who the person behind the door is and I’m not sure I have the courage to make the first knock. Many of us are very fortunate to have good parenting role models.

      I just wish there was away that we could reach out to these people who have been cruelly affected by their past childhood experinces who are now repeating the same neglect to their own children. Perhaps, child services is only a small band -aid to fix the solution because it is never easy to separate a mother from a child. But perhaps, there was a community volunteer organization such as something like Mother’s helping Mother’s. But would those neglectful parents be willing to join ? Or perhaps, it should be mandatory if the children have already been through the system . Maybe that could make a difference?

  4. Oh man, you speak from my heart on this subject as well. I used to want to work in the social service field, that’s what my major was in college. But, I soon learned that my bleeding heart would soon be crushed with an overwhelming desire to do what couldn’t be done; save every child. So I pray. And I love on my own three children every single day.

    1. I know my heart would be crushed if I worked in that field. It takes a very strong person to work in social services and I’m definitely not cut out for it. It’s a helpless situation with no band-aid solution. And you are right the best thing is to pray and hug our own children a little harder each night.

  5. Your headline “who speaks for the children? belle of the carnival&#039s blog…” is terrific and your site is now working on my Garmin GPS browser. May I post this on my site? I’ll reference the original source lol.

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